(President of Ireland Michael D, Higgins Presents Senator Murray with Tip O’Neill Irish Diaspora Award)
It was a busy week in Donegal last week as Senator Therese Murray President of the Massachusetts Senate received the Tip O’Neill Irish Diaspora award from the President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins.
In a touching ceremony on Friday night last Murray looked at home as she received the prestigious Tip O’Neill award in the Inishowen Gateway hotel, Buncrana surrounded by friends and family from both home and away.
Senator Murray’s ties to Ireland go beyond her economic development efforts. As Murray’s family tree stretches across the Island of Ireland with family names such as Harrold and Conners from Dublin tying her to our emerald green isle.
Murray proving herself a worthy recipient of the award has successfully strengthened the economic ties with the island of Ireland, particularly focusing on the Northwest. Through her leadership and guidance, a number of research alliances have been formed between the University of Massachusetts system and Irish Universities. Additionally, Murray has led multiple trade missions and has hosted delegations which have led to business development opportunities on both sides of the Atlantic.
“I am humbled and honored to be receiving the 3rd Tip O’Neill Irish Diaspora Award,” said President Murray. “Having the opportunity to further strengthen and create economic and academic links between Massachusetts and the Northwest of Ireland not only solidifies our historic ties, but also allows us to build a new bridge of cutting edge technology and innovation. It is these new connections that will help spur discovery and development, provide inspiration and opportunity, and move Massachusetts and the Island of Ireland forward in this global economy. Where there is opportunity there is hope and where there is hope there is peace. Working together, we will achieve great things.”
(Chief Executive of Donegal County Council Seamus Neely, pictured with Senator Therese Murray, President of Ireland Michael D,Higgins and Cathaoirleach Cllr John Campbell)
There is a strong Inishowen connection to Tip O’Neill, who was an American politician and speaker of the United States House of Representatives. His great-grandmother, Eunice Fullerton, hailed from Sledrin, outside Buncrana and his great grandfather James Tolan was born in Clonmany.
Tommy O Neill, son of the late Tip O’Neill commented on Senator Murray winning saying she was very deserving of the award.
“Senator Murray comes from a very similar background as the O’Neills and it’s great to see her recognised for her Irish links. She has done wonderful things for Massachusetts and Ireland in terms of making links with the Irish Diaspora.
“It’s a great achievement not only for her but for all Irish Americans, giving her this award was definitely the right thing to do.”
The Tip O’Neill award, a partnership initiative between Buncrana Town Council and Donegal County Council was created to establish and recognise achievements of members of the Diaspora in other countries and to celebrate the global impact of Irish people everywhere.
Michael Heaney, Director of Service at Donegal County Council said “This is an important event for Donegal. Not only does it honour one of the most esteemed members of our Diaspora in perpetuity, but also recognizes and celebrates the work of a current member of the present day Diaspora. The Donegal Diaspora Project is a key initiative of Donegal County Council and the Tip O’Neill Irish Diaspora Award will over the years continue to play a vital role in reaching out to broad Irish Diaspora throughout the world”.
The O’Neill family visited Inishowen for the ceremony. During their visit, they officially open the new Sliabh Sneacht Visitors’ Centre in Drumfries, Where a room at the centre was poignantly named the ‘Tip O’Neill Suite.’
Previous recipients of the Tip O’Neill Irish Diaspora award have been journalist and editor of the Irish Voice and Irish Central, Niall O’Dowd (2012) and Governor Brian Schweitzer of Montana (2013).